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2010 Physical Activity Symposium Logo
Click Here For Printable Version Value of Personal Training
Dear Cindy,
Do you believe personal training is worth what it costs? I am a runner turned walker and now with some undeniable limitations wonder if completely changing up my exercise habits would be a good move on my part? I don’t know what would be good. I thought of personal training.
Would you recommend? I know nobody is guaranteed results but what should I expect besides it costs a lot. I guess if it works, I might do it.

Dear Steven,
No foolin—provided you snag a competent personal trainer, my guess is you’ll feel as if it was one of the smartest moves you ever made. As with any profession, however, there are all levels of expertise and skill that set people apart and such is the case with personal trainers. They are not all created equal—in fact, you’ll find many with weak qualifications and little practical experience to those with notable credentials, hundreds of clients under their belt and the wisdom to prescribe appropriate activity to clients with a variety of physical limitations. Selecting one is the most critical step.

Nationally certified
It’s important to choose your personal trainer based on education—should be certified by a nationally recognized body, (ask for credentials and this should include a current CPR certification), experience and a proven track record rather than solely on convenience, cost or popularity. As mentioned, this will require some work on your part but once identified, you can trust him or her to take it from there.

What can I expect?
Remember that your first personal training session should never start with physical activity. As I said, a competent trainer will spend time gathering information and background on you in order to provide you with a quality program that is personal to you. This is based not only your current level of fitness and health, but also takes into account existing limitations such as muscle imbalance, pain or weakness from previous injury or age related conditions you may have. These boundaries can only be determined once the trainer has completed a comprehensive fitness assessment along with a thorough understanding of your goals.

Is it worth it?
In my opinion, your desire to find a safe and effective exercise regimen to keep your body active and strong is probably the best reason to consider a personal trainer. Trainers are hired for a variety of reasons, but oftentimes it is out of the need for motivation rather than the actual exercise prescription. Yours is where you’ll get more bang for your buck and the good news is that personal training is evolving and offering more options than ever before.

In the beginning
Traditionally, it was always a one-on-one experience—just you and the trainer. A fitness program would be specifically designed to meet your goals and a specific number of sessions would be scheduled each week. A typical example would be two to three times a week for an hour—then in approximately 6 to 8 weeks, the trainer would tweak your program to keep you motivated and challenged. This is certainly a fine way to train but others elect to work independently of the trainer once their program is created until they need their plan readjusted. These people typically need more help with exercise prescription than they do motivation. But as you can see, there are two options with the one-on-one training.

There’s comfort in numbers
As it has evolved, personal training has spawned even more options. Group personal training seems like a misnomer but, actually it’s a very effective alternative to one-on-one workouts. When groups of two or more workout with a trainer, they gain the added support of those with like goals and fitness levels without losing the attention of the trainer. This has the added benefit of being more affordable since they are sharing the training fee. Sometimes tricky but most important part of this in terms of dynamics, is the ability to match up both physicality and personality of the clients which can either lead to the best or worst of situations. Again, great trainers have the aptitude to do this quite successfully.

Generally this is how you know
• Need a time efficient, personalized program designed to challenge you
• Have a medical condition or limitation that needs special attention
• Recognize you need form and technique help
• Desire fitness education and nutritional counseling
• Are working out regularly but not making progress
• Have a deadline—training for a specific event with limited time to meet goals
• Require motivation, accountability and feedback to stay active

Probably most important to remember is that personal trainers are not magicians or miracle workers. Some mistakenly believe hiring a personal trainer and showing up at a gym will automatically transform their body. These are the people who, even with a great trainer, will come away feeling it’s a waste of money. A personal trainer can only help you get out of a training session what you put into it. Showing up on time, adequately rested, hydrated and nourished is the first step and the rest is 60 minutes of focused effort. You must prepare to train and when you do, not only will it work—it’ll feel like a bargain.
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